Police release seven suspects in Slovakian journalist's killing

Fiancee of slain Slovak journalist buried in wedding gown

Slovaks paid a final farewell Saturday to Jan Kuciak, an investigative journalist who was shot dead with his fiancee, with the archbishop declaring that everyone in the nation now wanted to know about Italian mafia influence, thanks to Kuciak's reporting.

Kuciak was about to publish an article that raised possible political links between Italian businessmen operating in Slovakia and Calabria's notorious 'Ndrangheta mafia.

"The investigator has, within the legal timeframe (48 hours) at his disposal, checked the facts necessary to bring charges. After 48 hours, detainees were released", police said in a statement.

The seven men were taken into custody Thursday when police raided houses allegedly linked to members of an Italian crime syndicate.

Some 25 marches were planned on Friday in Slovakia to honour the murdered couple, including one in the capital, Bratislava, which President Andrej Kiska will attend.

Thousands of mostly young Slovaks joined anti-graft rallies a year ago demanding the dismissal of senior government and police officials for alleged foot-dragging on fighting graft.

Kuciak's fiancee was laid to rest in her wedding gown on Friday, as hundreds of mourners flocked to her funeral in the northern Slovak town of Gregorovce.

A funeral Mass for Kuciak was held at the church of St. Francis of Assisi in the town of Stiavnik in western Slovakia, with his parents, friends and fellow journalists packing the aisles. It follows the October 2017 assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who had denounced corruption in Malta.

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The FBI, Britain's Scotland Yard, Europol and police forces from Italy and the Czech republic are helping Slovak police with the investigation.

Two of his close aides were for forced to resign Wednesday after Kuciak alleged they had ties to Italians purportedly involved with the 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate.

The rallies are taking place amid calls for worldwide experts to join the investigation and for Interior Minister Robert Kalinak, who was linked to corruption scandals in the past, to resign.

Fico once told journalists they were "dirty, anti-Slovak prostitutes", but he vowed his government was committed to the "protection of freedom of speech and the safety of journalists" in the wake of the murder.

Prime Minister Fico, who is known for his attacks on the media, was urged by the secretary general of the Reporters Without Borders group to apologise to journalists when they met on Friday.

"(But) we nonetheless think you should express regret and apologise for having insulted journalists on several occasions", Mr Deloire said.

Harlem Desir, the Freedom of the Media representative at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) was also in the meeting with Deloire and Fico.

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